Education Empowers

Darin believed education was a key to winning the war on terrorism. We cannot continue his work in Afghanistan, but we can carry on his mission of education in our community.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Update from 2014 Scholarship Recipient - Marco O'Bryan

"College is going really well. I am still studying Engineering Physics and have recently added a Mathematics and OSHA minor. I am excited to see where this path is going to take me."

Marco O'Bryan

The scholarship board is proud of the progress Marco is making and will continue to be a support to all recipients of the J. Darin Loftis Memorial Scholarship.

There have been six total scholarship recipients since the awards began three years ago. Those recipients are:

1. Marco O'Bryan
2. Courtney Martin
3. Logan Fry
4. Audree Harper
5. Andrea McCormack
6. Taylor Crouch

Monday, August 1, 2016

2016 Scholarship Recipient

The 2016 recipient of the J. Darin Loftis Memorial Scholarship is Taylor Michelle-Lynne Crouch from Almo, KY. With a 4.0 GPA, Miss Crouch graduated at the top of her class at Calloway County High School. In addition to being an honor student, she played soccer, participated in BETA club and Spanish club, was advertising manager for the school paper and chaired the Community Service committee for the student council. When not busy with studies and school activities, she worked with Special Olympics, the school Needline and UNICEF drives, participates in 4H and is a member of the Calloway County Fair Board.
Taylor will attend Murray State University this fall where she will study nursing and eventually plans to be a CRNA (Certified Register Nurse Anesthetist.) 
Congratulations to Taylor, we will look forward to following her throughout her college career and to the day when she will sign her name, Taylor Michelle-Lynne Crouch, RN, CRNA.   

Friday, November 13, 2015

J. Darin Loftis Memorial Scholarships Awarded

Three J. Darin Loftis Memorial Scholarships have been awarded for the college school year 2015-2016.

Mark Thorn presented the awards this year.  During the ceremony, he shared wonderful memories of Darin as being an incredible friend, a man of integrity and a hero to all of us.

Each recipient demonstrated the traits of the type of scholar and leader Darin set as an example to follow.  We congratulate each of them.

Award recipients:

  • Logan Fry
  • Audree Harper
  • Andrea McCormack

This brings the total number of scholarship recipients to five since the awards began two years ago.   The Scholarship Board will continue to stay in contact with recipients to learn of their individual journeys and overall impact on the world around them.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Process to name next recipient of Loftis honor gets underway

 Posted: Tuesday, April 28, 2015 7:00 am

Calloway County High School Class of 1986 graduates, with the help of the Community Foundations of West Kentucky  and Murray-Calloway County, are underway selecting this year’s recipient of the Lt. Col. Darin Loftis Scholarship.
 Last week, a board made up of some of Loftis’ high school friends and Community Foundation representatives  interviewed several candidates for the scholarship, and, as usual, each of them were impressed with what aspiring  CCHS graduates had to offer. This will be the second time the Loftis scholarship is awarded. It is set up as a one-time  $1,000 gift to a CCHS senior who demonstrates academic excellence, an interest in international affairs and exemplary  community service.

April 28, 2015
AUSTIN RAMSEY • Staff Writer
Last year, representatives said, the panel offered two scholarships because the crop of candidates were so talented and worthy. Going above and beyond like that, they said, was exactly the academic spirit that Loftis had.
He graduated from CCHS in 1986 and studied engineering at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. His adventures in life, said close friend Tim Weatherford, led him to become fluent in six different languages, and when looked for housing at Vanderbilt, he chose the language dorms so he could more immerse himself among new languages and cultures.
Later, his wife and he joined the Peace Corps, where he continued to feed an appetite of learning. Once he joined the U.S. Air Force, he worked first in missiles and then a Provisional Reconstruction Team with special forces in Afghanistan. He was only one of three Air Force personnel who spoke the native Pashto language of southern Afghanistan.
Tragically, however, only two months before his last tour overseas was set to end, he was shot and killed in the line of duty. That’s what led men like Weatherford and Mark Thorn, who was also a member of last week’s interview committee, to join with so many of Loftis’ other close friends to develop the scholarship fund with the Community Foundation with a $30,000 five-year goal.A
The generosity of friends, family and those touched by Loftis’ story have far exceeded the goal and West Kentucky Foundation CEO Tony Watkins said they hope to be able to broaden the fund to make it available annually to seniors who stick out among their classes as going above and beyond in the name of education and community service.
After all, said Thorn, there would be no better way to honor Loftis’ memory.
“It was about a legacy of education,” Thorn said. “Darin loved nothing more than learning – accept maybe applying that learning to something useful. I really think that if he knew that his life helped someone else get a leg-up and carry on what he tried to do, that would be something that he wanted.”
Weatherford agreed.
“He thought terrorism could only be addressed through education,” he said. “I’ve never met anyone like Darin Loftis. Why this happened, it’s hard to understand. But you know, you can get a purpose out all this. For him, it was education.”

Friday, June 27, 2014

First J.Darin Loftis Memorial Scholarships Awarded


Staff Writer, Murray Ledger and Times, Murray, KY

Lt. Col. John Darin Loftis, or “Ehsaan” as he was known in Afghanistan, always hoped to give back to local education.

A member of the United States Air Force and 1986 graduating class of Calloway County High School, Loftis was nearing the end of his second tour in Afghanistan when he was killed on February 25, 2012, by an employee of the Afghan National Police who worked at the Ministry of the Interior in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Now two years later, members of Loftis’ high school class have collaborated efforts to make possible an endowed scholarship in his name, and on May 20 at CCHS Senior Awards Night, the first recipients of the scholarship – Marco O’Bryan and Courtney Martin – were named.

“It’s neat that this is what his classmates decided to do,” Loftis’ wife, Holly, said by phone late last week. “It is so appropriate. (Darin) was a good student and was always learning. He loved learning...he loved going to school.

“When the idea cam from his classmates, they approached us as a family, and we thought it would be wonderful.”

Fluent in the Afghan native languages of Pashto and Dari, Loftis graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1990 with a degree in mechanical engineering before serving two years in the Peace Corps.

Following his stint in the Peace Corps, Loftis opted to join the United State Air Force in 1996, and by his first tour in Afghanistan in 2009, he had become a major serving in Special Operation Forces – tasked to work with provincial reconstruction teams to rebuild local governments.

According to Micah Garen of Four Corners Media and the New York Times, Loftis had not planned to return to Afghanistan, instead hoping to return home to his family and teaching position at Special Operations School on Hurlburt Field in Mary Esther, Florida.

However, in 2011, Loftis was personally recruited by USAF Chief of Staff Norton A. Schwartz to work with NATO forces at the Afghanistan Interior Ministry to organize a mentoring program for the Afghan military.

His Afghan name, “Ehsaan,” translates to “beholden under obligation” or “generous,” and so Loftis went, once telling his daughters “it’s an honorable sense of duty to help others.”

Loftis’ military and educational career inspired former CCHS classmates Jennifer Jarrett, Mark Thorn, Dana Cunningham and Tim Weatherford – as well as his mother, Chris Janne – to pursue the goal of building an endowment in his name.

“When the information was released that he had been killed, we all thought, ‘what could we do?’” Jarrett said by phone Thursday. “What would help us remember this person as our friend?”

A Facebook conversation between the ‘86 classmates generated ideas, but the concept of a scholarship rose above them all.

Loftis wore many hats and had friends from all corners in high school, and Jarrett said the process of all these people from different walks of life coming together to build this fund only spoke to the kind of person he was.

“The core of his high school friends all had different interests...sports, foreign language,” she said. “He crossed those lines, and he continued doing that as an adult.”

Originally hoping to provide one $1,000 scholarship to the CCHS graduating class of 2014, Weatherford and AT&T – where he is employed – matched funds to make two $1,000 scholarships possible.

The goal of the Class of ‘86 was to raise $30,000 in five years, solidifying the endowment and keeping Loftis’ memory alive. The scholarship will then be awarded to a CCHS seniors based on academic success, volunteering efforts throughout high school and the desire to study internationally upon entering college.

Donations to the scholarship fund can be made to Community Foundation of West Kentucky at P.O. Box 7, Paducah, Kentucky 42001, or online at www.cfwestky.org